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Lheidli T’enneh reports first positive COVID-19 case within its membership

Individual is isolating away from the Northside and Southside communities
Lheidli T'enneh First Nations logo
Lheidli T'enneh First Nation head office is located in the community of Shelley north of Prince George. (via Kyle Balzer, PrinceGeorgeMatters)

As COVID-19 cases continue to soar in the north, Lheidli T’enneh has reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 among its community.

The member lives in Prince George, but has not visited Lheidli T’enneh’s Southside or Northside neighbourhoods since being contacted by local health authorities.

The Nation says the member is isolating and recovering at home with support from Lheidli T’enneh nursing staff.

“The protocols that the Nation has implemented during the pandemic has been to secure safety for our membership, staff, and visitors," reads a letter from Dayi Clay Pountney and council to Lheidli T’enneh membership. 

"We have acted in the best interests of all members in taking an extremely cautious approach to assessing the information from the various authorities and adjusting our operations since the pandemic began earlier this year.

“We continue to follow the directives and guidelines of the Northern Health Authority and First Nations Health Authority. We thank our Administration and staff for ensuring that during this challenging time we have always provided essential services to our members. We also thank our community for following all protocols in place to keep our community safe. We strongly encourage our community to continue to abide by restrictions to prevent further cases. “

The second wave of the pandemic continues to severely impact Prince George and communities throughout northern B.C.

Yesterday, (Dec. 16) Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced an additional 47 cases in the Northern Health Authority, bringing the recorded number to 1,415 with 385 active cases in the region.

The pandemic has also seen northern B.C. first nations, like Nak'azdli Whut'en near Fort St. James, go into a shutdown to help curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases in the community saw a dramatic increase.

That shutdown is set to formally end tomorrow (Dec. 18) and it's unclear if it'll continue.

There is currently one outbreak in Prince George at the extended-care facility Jubilee Lodge, after two precautionary outbreaks at the University Hospital of Northern B.C.’s (UHNBC) Family Medicine Unit and Gateway Lodge were declared over.

In a Dec. 16 update, Northern Health says Jubilee Lodge has had eight positive cases among residents and four involving staff members for a total of 12.

As of publication, Prince George has also had 16 COVID-19 school exposures, 12 within School District 57 (SD57), which has prompted the Prince George District Teachers Association (PGDTA) to call on the province to ramp up efforts to improve safety.

An open letter from PGDTA to Dr. Bonnie Henry points to the recent surge of cases in Northern Health leading to delays in contract tracing and calls for mandatory masks in all schools.

St. Mary’s Catholic School also announced it would be closing its doors just before winter break on Friday (Dec. 18), citing a staffing shortage due to the ongoing pandemic. 

As COVID-19 continues to impact the region, Lheidli T’enneh leadership is also reminding its members to follow COVID-19 guidelines such as handwashing, social distancing, limiting visitors to only household members, and staying home and away from Elders in the community.